WWE Extreme Rules 2012 Fan Diary Day 4: A Look at Bret Hart, the Best Ever
I'm the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be. - Bret Hart
Over the years, I have had many favorites in the wrestling industry. Everyone from Ultimate Warrior to Shawn Michaels to Sting have cycled in and out of that top spot on my own personal list of the top wrestlers, but when looking at who I think the best wrestlers of all-time are, I always come back to one name.
Bret The Hitman Hart.
Over the past few days, I have been posting entries to my Extreme Rules fan diary about various subjects regarding my history as a wrestling fan. Today I will look at the wrestler who I feel can lay claim to the title "Best in the World."
In my opinion, Hart is far and away the best wrestler to ever lace up a pair of boots. This is, of course, only my opinion, and I do not expect everyone to share it, but allow me to make my case.
Bret Hart was destined to be something great in the industry, having come from one of the most important families in the history of the business, but he stands alone as the most successful member of the Hart family.
When the WWF was still in a period of guys like Hulk Hogan and other massively built wrestlers being the WWF Champion, Bret Hart rose through the ranks because the fans demanded it.
Bret Hart was a very accomplished amateur wrestler in his early years, winning various championships throughout Calgary.
As he continued to be successful during his days as a film major in college, he began to show more interest in his father's business, professional wrestling.
He began training with Stampede Wrestling and soon started to earn spots on the card as a jobber. Once it was clear he had the talent to be something special, he was given his first push as a tag-team star alongside his brother, Keith.
The two won the promotion's titles on four separate occasions, but Bret was also beginning to show promise as a singles star.
Under the guidance of his father and other greats like Kazuo Sakurada, he began having the most exciting matches on the card against the likes of The Dynamite Kid and even his own brothers and father.
During this period, Hart went on to win nine singles championships with Stampede while also managing to win World Wrestling Council's Tag Team Championships with Smith Hart.
Once Stampede was bought by the expanding World Wrestling Federation, Bret was paired up with Jimmy Hart and his real-life brother-in-law Jim The Anvil Neidhart.
It was impossible not to see the sheer talent that the kid from Alberta, Canada had. He was a technical master in the ring, and he had the support of his fellow wrestlers.
When he first showed up in the WWF as part of the tag team The Hart Foundation with Jim Neidhart, he was one of the smaller guys on the roster.
Barely over 6'0" and always under the 240-pound mark, Hart had to rely on his quickness and ring mastery to overcome the usually larger opponents.
With the bruiser Neidhart by his side, he was able to capture the Tag Team Championships on two occasions.
As it became clear that Bret had the ability to stand on his own as a wrestler, he was separated from Neidhart and he began pursuing the Intercontinental Championship.
His feuds over the IC title with guys like Curt Hennig, Shawn Michaels, The British Bulldog and Roddy Piper were often more exciting than the feuds over the WWF Championship at the time.
In fact, his matches with Hennig at SummerSlam 1991, Piper at WrestleMania 8 and The British Bulldog at SummerSlam 1992 stand out as three of the greatest matches in the history of the IC title.
While he was doing all this, Hart also managed to win the King of the Ring tournament in 1991 and again in 1993, making him the only person to claim that prize twice.
In a rare move by WWF, Hart won the WWF Championship from Ric Flair in a match that was not nationally televised in October of 1992.
The match was made available through WWF's Home Video company, and today it can be found on YouTube and other online video sites.
Hart went on to win the WWF Championship a total of five times, a rare thing back then for someone of his age. Only Hogan and Flair could claim that many championships at the time.
Bret Hart had feuds with some of the greatest in the history of the business, which are still remembered to this day as being groundbreaking and entertaining.
Wrestlers like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Yokozuna and Ric Flair would have classic matches with Hart over the title many times over the years.
The Montreal incident was unfortunate, but he moved on to WCW to become United States Champion and World Heavyweight Champion before being forced to retire due to an injury.
Hart's impact on the business and influence on other wrestlers will last for decades. His skill in the ring and his ability to make other people look better than they could ever look on their own makes him one of the best of all-time in the ring.
I can admit that Hart was never the best talker in the history of the business, but you do not have to be in order to be the best wrestler in the history of the business.
Over the entire course of my time as a wrestling fan, I have had a hard time finding anyone who is a more complete wrestler than Bret Hart.
He can brawl, mat wrestle and even climb the ropes and fly through the air if need be. His signature move, the Sharpshooter, is still associated with him and probably always will be.
As a child, I dressed up as Bret Hart for Halloween, complete with the signature Hart sunglasses I ordered from the magazine and leather jacket I borrowed from a friend.
He was more of a positive role model than anyone else I can remember from that era in wrestling. He never allowed personal demons to overtake him, and he always put on the best show possible.
I have read his book, watched the DVDs, re-watched his guest spot on The Simpsons over and over and I have had the pleasure of getting to see him wrestle live.
I have been a fan of many wrestlers over the years, but when considering who I think is the greatest of all-time, I have to choose Bret Hart.
Please take a moment and check out the first three days from my Extreme Rules fan diary.
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